Stick, tiger, rooster, and worm.
Jing Jiu, the Fire Carp, Cold Cicada, and some mosquitoes.
It was usually the victory of willpower when the weak defeated the powerful. But victory would come easily if the weak was extremely small.
In his current state, the Fire Carp didn't necessarily fear those mosquitoes, even if they were the mosquitoes of the Fiend Prison that were feared even by Liu Ada.
The crucial issue was that the Fire Carp didn't even know what those invisible objects were.
The unknowable could make one's fear many times worse, not to mention that the Fire Carp was someone who had never left the center of the earth, thus being premature and scared of the shadows.
Jing Jiu didn't say anything more. It was evident that he was not willing to talk to the Fire Carp any longer.
The Fire Carp retreated one hundred feet while swaying his tail, appearing very cautious and ready to jump into the river of lava at any moment. "If I spread the news that you have colluded with the Underworld, your reputation will take a dive and die without even a burying ground."
Hearing this weak threat, Jing Jiu was thinking about something else.
Even if the Center Sect had sent someone to visit him every six hundred years, why could he speak so fluently?
The perplexing thing was that Jing Jiu found there was a familiarity in the Fire Carp's tone.
The atmosphere in the cliff cave didn't grow tenser because of Jing Jiu's silence; it became a bit embarrassing though.
It was the Fire Carp who felt embarrassed.
It was because he had no desire to attack Jing Jiu now.
However, as a guardian of the Center Sect, he felt that he would lose face if he let this Green Mountain disciple leave without a promise.
The Fire Carp suddenly came up with an idea. "Eh, friend, how about this? If you offer me a favor, then I won't be able to harm my benefactor. After that, we can part ways; what do you think?" he suggested excitedly.
Jing Jiu thought it was indeed a good idea, asking, "What do you want me to do?"
The Fire Carp turned around in the air, exposing his back. "I took a bath in the river yesterday. I was so excited that I accidently bit my own back. As you know, nobody can harm a king of my state except myself…"
"Do you want me to treat your injury?" Jing Jiu cut in.
The Fire Carp turned around and said, "Yes, yes. All you need to do is to give it a try. I don't expect you to actually cure me. It's mostly a friendly gesture."
How could this carp bite his own back since he didn't have a neck as long as a giraffe?
This was obviously a lie.
The Fire Carp didn't want to tell Jing Jiu that he had been defeated by that bizarre and formidable Sun Banner; it was too disgraceful to mention it.
What the King of Fire Carps disliked the most was losing face.
But, he could save face by asking Jing Jiu to treat his injury. He didn't expect Jing Jiu to heal his injury; what he wanted was an excuse for both sides to back down.
Then, the two of them would separate and stay far away from each other.
Jing Jiu walked over to the river bank and looked at his back. He found that the fin on the carp's tail was indeed injured and that the scales around it turned up slightly, some of which were evidently burned.
Jing Jiu felt baffled, wondering who could hurt him in the deep end of the Gathered-Soul Valley. He also learned that the method his opponent employed was also the magic method of fire.
Though Jing Jiu didn't know how to treat illness, he had some experience in treating the injuries since he had already sharpened his sword for a long time.
He leapt up in the air and then landed gently on the back of the Fire Carp.
The Fire Carp was startled, wondering if he knew something about treating the injuries after all.
Jing Jiu reached out his right hand and started picking those dead and burned scales off the back of the Fire Carp.
The scales were very hard. It took some time for him to do so even with his right hand.
He felt that these scales looked familiar. As he found an old injury in the front of his body, Jing Jiu understood why.
It turned out that the magic treasure he had snatched from that deviant practitioner was made from one of this Fire Carp's scales.
A huge golden carp was hovering over the river of lava.
A man was squatting on the back of the golden carp.
That man was preoccupied with something.
This was an amazing scene. If one thought about it deeply, they would find that it was not different from a starling pecking the parasites while standing on the back of the buffalos.
Thinking of his identity, Jing Jiu felt a bit humiliated, or at least somewhat upset. Yet, he was doing this quietly and patiently, because he needed an excuse to back down, and safety was always the number one concern. Moreover, the scales of the Fire Carp could help him sharpen his sword, so this was actually a pretty good deal.
What he felt somewhat regretful about was that he couldn't use the scales of the fish to sharpen his sword. The fish scales gave off a metallic glow, indicating it was extremely hard; but they were attached tightly to the body of the Fire Carp. A slight tuck on the scale would make the Fire Carp feel unbearably painful, to say nothing of sharpening the sword against them. All he could do was rub his right hand a few times against the burned and dead scales when he was pulling them off the Fire Carp. But those scales had been damaged by a sort of fire poison and became very brittle; as such, they were not as good as the magic treasure of that deviant practitioner as far as the whetstones were concerned.
It didn't take long for Jing Jiu to take out all the damaged scales that made the Fire Carp feel uncomfortable; he then returned to the river bank.
The Fire Carp turned around a few times swiftly while swaying his tail. He felt a lot more comfortable now. He couldn't help but feel pleased, and said, "You should leave as soon as possible when this king is in a good mood, even though it's a pity that I'm unable to eat you."
Jing Jiu thought it was a pity as well. If this Fire Carp had cultivated for six thousand years more under the ground and become an adult, he would be able to use his scales to sharpen the sword. In that case, the carp wouldn't be injured when being used as a whetstone, except that it would feel a bit painful. Yet, he was certain that he would have been able to convince the carp to tolerate it.
Jing Jiu suddenly thought of another possibility. "You said that you had never been to the Cloud-Dream Mountain, but have you been anywhere else?" he asked.
A sad expression showed in the Fire Carp's eyes, as he replied, "I can only stay in the fire of earth until I reach adulthood, so I haven't been to anywhere else."
After learning this, Jing Jiu thought that a very cold earth source existed under Shangde Peak, but no fire source was on Green Mountain, and that there was no way Green Mountain could raise this carp.
It was truly a pity.
Otherwise, Shenmo Peak would have an extra fish and Green Mountain would have an extra principal guard even without asking the bad-tempered Senior Master Tai Lu for further information.
The Fire Carp sensed his emotion, but he had no idea why Jing Jiu felt such an emotion, which is why he thought Jing Jiu felt sad about his situation, and mused to himself that this Green Mountain disciple was rather warm-hearted.
Jing Jiu raised his right hand as he flew toward the ground. He turned his head around and glanced at the Fire Carp resentfully before entering the cliff wall.
The Fire Carp swayed his tail twice; he felt sad separating with Jing Jiu.
It was still very cold in the early spring. The barren plain was still desolate, and the field was lifeless as far as the eyes could see. Forget the buffalos and starlings; not even an insect could be found here.
The reason it was lifeless here was not totally because of the weather; it had something to do with the disciples of the Mysterious Dark Church scattered in the fields.
The headquarters of the Windy-Broadsword Church were located in Juye City. Yet, they had to guard against the potential invasion from the snowland all the time. The strength of the Kunlun Sect was actually quite weak now even though they seemed strong enough when viewed from the outside, so they had no way to deal with the threat from the Cold Mountain. The Mysterious Dark Sect had developed very quickly since it changed its name from Sect to "Church". They had grown more and more aggressive, as if they had the potential to revive their former glory.
Normally, as the deviant sects had a sign of reviving in the north, the Center Sect, as the leader of the orthodox Cultivation sects, should take the responsibility of dealing with the threat. Unfortunately, the Cloud-Dream Mountain had encountered issues one after another: The Old Dragon had died; the Unicorn had been injured; Tong Yan had betrayed the sect; the Fairy Book of Longevity had been obtained and tempered by Jing Jiu, and the Green Sky Mirror was gone. The Immortal Tan and the Immortal Bai were not in the mood for such a matter.
Now that there had been a few confrontations in the snowland recently, the Mysterious Dark Church had been acting more boldly around the Cold Mountain. It seemed that they would be conducting their affairs in the open. This time, the master of the Mysterious Dark Church, who called himself the King Ming, had led most of their advanced swordsmen and over a thousand followers to this barren plain. They had set up some formidable formations while searching around; it seemed that they were looking for something.
Standing on the yellowish grass, a disciple of the Mysterious Dark Church rubbed his eyes and made sure that he had found no mark in the area; then he looked at somewhere a few miles away and sent over his voice through a magic treasure, "Have you found anything?"
"Nothing." The voice of his partner's came out from the magic treasure.
Soon after, the voice of his another partner's rang out: "I heard that the fellow had already hidden under the ground for almost two years; how can we find him then?"
A group of three Mysterious Dark Church disciples was responsible for searching one area.
According to the rule set by the Church Master himself, the three disciples were forbidden to stay close to each other, and they had to keep a distance of three miles from each other.
This rule was not for preventing them from fighting over the rewards, but for avoiding all three being killed by the enemies at the same time; otherwise, the warning message wouldn't be sent out.
If it were a few years ago, they would be able to get together, set a bonfire, and drink a few cups of wine while badmouthing about the elders of the church; it would be easier to kill time that way.
But they couldn't enjoy such kind of time any longer. The magic treasures on them could identify and record their locations; if the superiors found out that they had been closer together, they would face unimaginably horrible treatment according to the church rules.
Fortunately, they could communicate with each other through the magic treasures, and they would kill some time by chitchatting. Since they didn't know if the magic treasure could record what they had said, they didn't dare say anything bad about the elders anymore. All they could do was talk about the trivial matters.
"Do you know that the Church Master has come in person this time? It's said that the King of Fire is even alerted; as a result, that person has been forced out of the underground, and that is why we are here looking for him."
"Speaking of which, why did the Center Sect expel that person from their mountain gate? I heard that he is very famous."
"Who knows! I think they did it because he had stolen a precious treasure of the Center Sect."
"Hahahaha! I don't think it was he who steal a precious treasure, but rather the wife of his Master."
"You are such an ill-informed guy! His Master is the Immortal Bai, who is the wife. And also it is well known in the north that he likes the Fairy Lady Bai Zao."
"But why did he run away? If he could become the son-in-law later on, he would be able to get whatever he wanted."
"You are so clueless! All of Chaotian knows that the man Bai Zao likes is Jing Jiu of Green Mountain."
The three Mysterious Dark Church disciples were talking excitedly over the magic treasures, and totally forgot that their talks might be recorded.
All of a sudden, the voices in the magic treasures stopped for a moment and then resumed.
"Have you felt the quiver in the ground?"
"Yes…I think it's shaking quite a bit."
"I don't feel anything here. It looks like the quake has happened on your side. Be careful."
"Don't say anything more. I'm a little scared now."
"Hahahaha! There is nothing to be scared of. The fire sources are everywhere under the Cold Mountain; the earth quakes almost every day here."
"You know freaking nothing! I heard that the King of Fire is situated under this patch of ground. You shouldn't forget that he has suffered a defeat in the hands of our Church Master."
"What you said is sensible. The Church Master and elders have nothing to worry about; but we would vanish without a trace should we are unlucky enough to encounter him."
"Meng Laosi, what you say scares me. Qiao Shen, you should be careful since the earth shakes quite a bit on our side."
"Qiao Shen…did you hear me?"
"Old Qiao, are you okay?"
The disciple of the Mysterious Dark Church named Qiao Shen didn't respond because he felt dizzy at the moment; he didn't hear the voices in his magic treasure.
A round black hole suddenly appeared on the ground of the barren plain before him. The hole was not very big, just enough for one person to go in and out through.
As the dust settled, a person showed up in front of him.
That person wore the white cloth, covered with dirt, looking a bit shabby.
"Where is this place?"
That person jumped up and down a few times on the ground.
The dirt and sandy pebbles on his cloth rolled down like the dews rolling down from the lotus leaves; as a result, they couldn't stick to his cloth any longer.
Even the tiniest dusts had no chance of staying on his cloth.
"This place is…the Cold Mountain."
Qiao Shen answered in a slightly trembling voice. As he saw that person's clean face, he suddenly came to his senses, yelling toward the magic treasure, "Run away. It's Jing…"
Jing Jiu waved his right hand.
His voice stopped instantly.
In the next moment, his head fell off from his neck, rolling on the ground to a distant spot.
The Sword of the Universe rose up with the wind. It came to a place three miles away in an instant, cutting off another disciple's head in the same manner.
Jing Jiu's body disappeared from the original spot.
As he came to the place five miles away in the opposite direction, the disciple of the Mysterious Dark Church by the name of Meng Laosi was still listening to the voices in the magic treasure with his head tilted.
The disciple named Qiao Shen had already died, but his voice had just come out from the magic treasure.
Jing Jiu waved his hand.
Meng Laosi died.
Looking at his right hand, Jing Jiu nodded satisfactorily.
He had been sharpening it from summer to autumn and from autumn to winter and early spring. He had finally sharpened it enough after so much time spending on it.
The sharper the sword, the faster his Underworld Fairy Sword would move.
The Sword of the Universe came back to him noiselessly.
Jing Jiu reached out his hand and took the sword. He then trudged forward.
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